Barack Obama's decision to have Pastor Rick Warren deliver the invocation at his inauguration next month has provoked anguish among some of his formerly ardent supporters. Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, upbraided the president-elect according to The Politico. "Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans. (W)e feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination." Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen accused Obama of condoning a man who "dehumanizes" homosexuals. NPR talk show host Diane Rehm called some of Warren's comments on gays "ugly."
What had Warren done to provoke such feelings? He supported California's Proposition 8, which overturned a state Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage. But wait, Barack Obama opposed gay marriage, didn't he? He stated explicitly during the campaign that he believed marriage to be the union "between one man and one woman." His supporters clearly assumed he was being disingenuous. Based on Obama's other beliefs, the atmospherics of the campaign, and their own hopes, they dismissed his opposition to gay marriage.
Other supporters of traditional marriage don't get such gentle treatment from proponents of gay marriage. Instead, as the above quotes on Warren demonstrate, there is a pretty systematic effort to portray opponents of gay marriage as simple bigots, no more deserving of respect than racists or anti-Semites. What particularly outraged gay rights activists was a comment Warren made in a TV interview when he compared two homosexuals getting married to a brother marrying a sister or an adult marrying a child. Those were not the most felicitous comparisons and probably unnecessarily hurt the feelings of gays and lesbians.
And yet, the point Warren was making was a valid one. Once you abandon the traditional definition of marriage to suit the feelings on an interest group, by what principle do you stop redefining marriage? Gays and lesbians argue that their same sex unions are loving, committed relationships. Fine. But there are, or could be, other loving, committed relationships involving more than two people. Supporters of gay marriage say this is a ridiculous slippery slope argument.